GREENVILLE, N.C. - Shane Carden threw for four touchdowns and Vintavious Cooper ran for 145 yards in ECU's 48-28 Conference USA victory over Houston in Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium Saturday afternoon.
The Pirates controlled the football to the tune of 98 snaps and 44:08 of possession time. All a part of 550 yards of total offense. Houston only ran 62 plays in the contest but they made the most of it in the second half.
With the win, East Carolina(6-4/5-1 C-USA) becomes bowl eligible with two games remaining. The Pirates have a bye week next week before traveling to New Orleans to take on Tulane in two weeks. They close out the season against Marshall in Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium on November 23rd.
The Pirates went up 28-0 before Houston finally answered with five seconds before halftime with their first points of the game, a David Piland to Larry McDuffey 10 yard touchdown pass.
Carden threw four touchdown passes in the first half alone, on the way to a 28-7 halftime lead. Carden found New Bern's Danny Webster for three of those scores from six, twelve and nine yards out respectively.
Then Carden connected in the east endzone to Reese Wiggins on the fade pattern for an 8 yard touchdown.
Carden completed 20 of 28 in the first half on the way to a 31 for 43 day, good for 305 yards. All four of Carden's touchdown passes came in the first half.
Vintavious Cooper continued his quality play with 70 first half yards on 14 carries while the Pirates held Houston running back Charles Sims to just 33 yards in the first two quarters of play before he went out with an injury before the half.
The Pirates rang up 350 yards in total offense in the first two quarters.
Shane Ros nearly scored for Houston(4-5/3-2 C-USA) on a 55 yard catch and run on a pass from David Piland but Jacobi Jenkins' last shove caused Ros to bobble the football just before crossing the goal line. The play was ruled a touchback.
East Carolina's Vintavious Cooper fumbled on the ensuing drive, putting the Cougars in scoring position on the ECU 34 yard line with 11:30 in the third quarter. One play later, Piland hit Isaiah Sweeney
for a 34 yard touchdown to cut the lead to 28-14.
Warren Harvey extended the Pirates' lead to 31-14 on a 28 yard field goal with 7:01 in the third stanza.
Phillip Stewart threw Shane Carden for a nine yard loss when the Pirates were on the Houston eleven yard line, limiting ECU to a 31 yard field goal from Harvey as the Pirates went up 34-14 just over a minute into the fourth quarter.
A pass interference penalty gave Houston the football on the ten yard line but Jacobi Jenkins deflected Piland passes on first and second down. Piland zinged one over the middle of the endzone to Mark Roberts for the Cougar touchdown to make the score 34-21 with 11:40 left in the game.
Cooper broke loose up the middle for ECU for a 22 yard touchdown with 2:47 to go and Ty Holmes swiped a David Piland pass for a pick six touchdown from 28 yards out to extend the Pirate lead to 48-21.
Piland, who passed for 431 yards and four touchdowns, found Kenneth Farrow with just two seconds left to cut the final margin of victory to twenty, 48-28.
Leonard Paulk led ECU defensively with five tackles on the day while Jacobi Jenkins tallied four stops for the Pirates in their fifth Conference USA victory.
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